This post may contain affiliate links.
Creamy yet light, milk cleansers might be one of the best cleansing choices for those with sensitive or dry skin, although they can also work beautifully for oilier skin types. A cleansing milk sits somewhere between a gel cleanser and an oil or balm cleanser, by helping to remove makeup thoroughly without drying out or irritating the skin. The milky texture is uniquely luxurious, so if you’re a fan of skincare routines that feel like self-care, definitely take milk cleansers into consideration.
In this post, I’ve collected the best milk cleansers on the market, and give each one a quick review, so you can pick your favorite. I explain exactly what cleansing milk is, how it works, and what the pros and cons are for using it, so you can figure out if cleansing milk is right for you. I also explain the best method for using cleansing milk, to get your face feeling clean and healthy.
A Guide to Milk Cleansers for Face: Contents
- 19 Best Cleansing Milks to Remove Impurities from Your Face
- What Is Cleansing Milk and How Is It Different from Other Facial Cleansers?
- Pros & Cons of Using Milk Cleansers
- How to Use Cleansing Milk for Face?
Perfect for gently removing any dirt and build-up from your face, these are the best cleansing milks available on the market that we recommend trying!
1. Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk
No matter your skin type, this is undeniably one of the best milk cleansers. It is made with a combination of jojoba and almond oils, so it nourishes the skin while removing all traces of makeup and impurities. It is best applied with a cotton pad, and then wiped off, and is perfectly safe to use around the eyes. You can buy a bottle at Sephora.
2. L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Milk
The blend of shea butter and sunflower oil in this cleansing milk makes for a very luxurious product that works for any skin type. There is also a touch of skin-brightening licorice root extract. You can wipe it off or rinse it away, and still be assured that it will do a good job removing your makeup. Order this milk cleanser online from Dermstore!
3. Chanel Lait Confort Creamy Cleansing Milk
This is the most luxurious of milk cleansers, with a silky soft feel that glides over the skin. It is a great gentle cleanser for mornings, while in the evening it does take a bit of work to completely remove all makeup. Buy a bottle from Nordstrom!
4. Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk
This silicone-based cleansing milk is an affordable option that works really well. It does an incredible job of removing makeup when applied to the skin dry, and it leaves the skin feeling very soft and healthy. It is a great choice for all skin types, but especially those with sensitive or dry skin. Pick up this cleanser from Ulta!
5. Fresh Soy Face Cleansing Milk
This non-foaming formula from Fresh is one of the best cleansing milks for those with sensitive and dehydrated skin. It includes soothing cornflower and hydrating soy proteins, as well as a respectable amount of glycerin. It removes light makeup with ease, and is safe to use around the eyes. You can find it at Sephora.
6. Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk
This is one of the best milk cleansers with an all-natural formula. It is a super nourishing formula that is fantastic for dry and dehydrated skin thanks to safflower oil, glycerin, and calendula, although a collection of essential oils in it means it should be avoided by those sensitive to scents. Since it contains very few surfactants, it is best as a first cleanser for those with oilier skin. It can be ordered online from Dermstore.
7. Clarins Cleansing Milk with Alpine Herbs
This super popular cleansing milk from Clarins has been around for ages, and for a reason. It is one of the best cleansing milks for sensitive skin, with a gentle formula and lovely scent. It isn’t the most powerful when it comes to removing makeup, so it might work better as a second cleanser or in the mornings. This cleanser is available for sale at Sephora.
8. Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Milk Cleanser
This is another natural take on milk cleansers with a very moisturizing formula that works beautifully to remove makeup, and it happens to smell like delicious coconuts. It is a cleansing milk that is almost reminiscent of a balm cleanser, so you might want to follow it up with a stronger cleanser. Grab yourself a bottle from Dermstore!
9. Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Milk
This cleansing milk from Clinique is really advertised as more of a gentle makeup remover than cleanser. It contains a few different moisturizing oils, including jojoba, to keep the skin soft and moisturized. It is best applied when the skin is dry, and then wiped off. It can be purchased through Sephora.
10. Phytomer Accept Soothing Cleansing Milk
This is a slightly heavier cleansing milk that plays nicely with water. It rinses away cleanly, removing makeup but keeps the skin feeling very soft. It is an especially great choice for those with sensitive skin. Order yourself a bottle from Dermstore!
11. Dior Hydra Life Micellar Milk No Rinse Cleanser
This is another one of the best milk cleansers for makeup removal. It should be dispensed on to a cotton pad first, and then used to wipe the skin of all impurities – no rinsing required. It is also excellent for removing eye makeup, and works for all skin types. Get this cleanser at Sephora!
12. The Organic Pharmacy Rose & Chamomile Cleansing Milk
This coconut oil-based cleansing milk is super soothing to the skin, thanks to rose and chamomile. It has a very creamy, surfactant-free formula that is best used as a makeup remover for those with very dry or sensitive skin. It is available at Nordstrom.
13. Mario Badescu Cleansing Milk With Carnation & Rice Oil
This is a heavier take on cleansing milks with a blend of vitamin E-rich rice bran oil as well as mineral oil. It is a fabulous formula for breaking down makeup completely, and would likely work best as a first cleanser or makeup remover. You can buy it from Ulta.
14. Avene Gentle Milk Cleanser
If you have ultra sensitive skin, and everything seems to give you issues, then this is the best cleansing milk for you. It is fragrance-free and totally hypoallergenic, not to mention extremely hydrating and fortifying. It is best used dry, and then rinsed or wiped away. It is sold online through Dermstore.
15. Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk
This all-natural cleansing milk is a lavender dream, with a gorgeous fragrance and lots of soothing botanicals like green tea and chamomile. Because it contains some very gentle surfactants, it rinses away in water easily, and can work really well as a second cleanser for all skin types. Buy it online from Goop!
16. Edible Beauty No. 1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk
This is by far the best cleansing milk for those with acne-prone skin, as this nourishing formula contains a dose of clarifying salicylic acid. It removes makeup completely with the aid of coconut oil, and can be rinsed away with water. It is sold at Sephora.
17. Yon-Ka Lait Nettoyant Cleansing Milk
This is another mineral oil-based take on cleansing milks that ends up being a little heavier, for better moisturizing effects. It also contains a touch of lactic acid to help hydrate and lightly exfoliate the skin. It removes all makeup, and can work well as a first cleanser. Pick up a bottle through Dermstore!
18. Cellex-C Betaplex Gentle Cleansing Milk
This cleansing milk is firmly in the cleanser category, since it rinses away completely, but it still works well to soothe the skin and remove makeup. It contains a lot of exfoliating lactic acid, as well as anti-inflammatory willow bark extract, making it one of the best milk cleansers even for those with oily and acne-prone skin. It is available for sale at Dermstore.
19. Credentials Orange Blossom Cleansing Milk
This is another take on cleansing milk that acts more like a traditional cleanser. While it does have a creamy texture, it is best mixed with water to effectively cleanse the skin. It still has all the nourishing properties of a milk cleanser, and works best for the morning or as a second cleanse. You can purchase it from Dermstore.
Cleansing milks are named this way because of their consistency. They usually have a creamy white color, while their texture is that of a very liquidy and runny cream.
Cleansing milk is a type of facial cleanser made of a blend of emollients and water that can break down makeup, dirt, sweat and oils. Milk cleansers can either be wiped off with a cloth or face wipe like makeup removers, or they can be rinsed away with water.
Unlike gel or foam facial cleansers, cleansing milks do not create a lather, nor do they foam up. The only reasons gel and powder cleansers lather up is because they rely on surfactants to break down makeup and dirt.
Surfactants are a type of molecule that changes the surface tension of oil and water, and allows them to mix. Unfortunately, the surfactants used in your average gel cleanser can also seriously dry out and dehydrate the skin.
Because milk cleansers do not rely on surfactants to break down the impurities from the skin, they make for a much more gentle cleanser than your average foam or gel cleanser. However, since their formulas contain a lot of water and some light emulsifiers, they also don’t tend to leave a residue or to feel as greasy on the skin as an oil cleanser.
On the other hand, oil cleansers tend to do a better job of removing heavy makeup, when compared to the lighter cleansing milk.
So what are the benefits of milk cleansers and the possible cons?
• Unlike surfactant-based cleansers, cleansing milk doesn’t strip the skin of oil, so it leaves it feeling soft and healthy, rather than tight and dehydrated.
• Cleansing milk formulas are very rich in water, so cleansing milks can totally hydrate and moisturize the skin while cleansing it.
• Cleansing milk is versatile enough for every skin cleansing technique. You can remove it with a wipe or some cotton pads, or you can rinse it away with water, depending on your preference.
• If you are in a place where you don’t have access to running water, cleansing milks are the perfect choice, as they can be removed without any water.
• The creamy texture of cleansing milks is super luxurious and relaxing, and it can put you in a very happy and calm mindset.
• Milk cleansers often contain soothing ingredients that help to calm down redness and reduce irritation in sensitive and acne-prone skin.
• Some milk cleansers are not very thorough at removing makeup, especially when compared to oil or balm cleansers.
• If you like your skin feeling squeaky clean after you’ve cleansed (which you shouldn’t, but I don’t judge too harshly), then cleansing milk is not for you, since it will leave your skin soft and supple instead.
Sometimes, when I read bad reviews for a cleansing milk, it is really easy to tell that the issue wasn’t the product – the issue was actually the user! Many people try to use cleansing milk like it was a traditional cleanser, and then get annoyed when it doesn’t fully remove their makeup or lather up.
However, if you follow my instructions and use your cleansing milk properly, it should work wonderfully to get your skin clean and soft.
• Get ready for your cleansing routine by washing your hands thoroughly and pulling your hair back and away from your face, so cleanser and other skincare products don’t get into it.
• If you’re a fan of double cleansing, or if you have a lighter cleansing milk that isn’t great for removing heavy makeup, then do your first cleanse with an oil or balm cleanser, by massaging it into dry skin and wiping away with a microfiber cloth, muslin, or paper towel. You can also just wipe your face with a makeup remover on a cotton pad.
• Some milk cleansers are on the oilier or creamier side, in which case you can use them as your first cleanser or makeup remover, and still go for a second cleansing with a gel or foam-based cleanser.
• Milk cleansers do a better cleansing job if the skin is dry. Make sure your face is dry before cleansing with your favorite cleansing milk.
• Dispense about a quarter-sized amount of milk cleanser into your hand or onto a cotton pad.
• If you are using a cotton pad, use upward motions to wipe the cotton pad over your skin, lifting away makeup and debris. If you are a fan of heavy makeup, you might want to use multiple cotton pads to remove everything.
• For removing makeup from around the eyes, gently hold the cotton pad against your eye area for a few seconds, and then wipe in a downward motion to remove all eye makeup.
• If you are using your hands, gently press the milk cleanser into your skin, and allow it to sit for a few moments in order to break down all the makeup and impurities.
• Next, begin massaging the cleansing milk into your skin using round, circular motions.
• Once you feel that all makeup and impurities have been dissolved and combined with the cleansing milk, you are best off to wipe it all away with a face wipe, cotton pad, muslin, or microfiber cloth. Some cleansing milks are best removed with a dry wipe, while for others it should be damp.
• Some cleansing milks can also be rinsed away with just water, although I find that rarely works well, especially if you’re wearing heavy makeup.
Photos via @lalachic_uk